Thursday, November 29, 2007

Willis at large, part 5

kw: book reviews, science fiction, stories, anthologies

The final two sections of The Winds of Marble Arch and other stories by Connie Willis are titled "And Afterwards" and "Epiphanies", and contain two stories each. "And Afterwards" purposely follows "Matters of Life and Death", and these two with "Epiphanies" contain most of her thinking of spiritual things.
  • Service for the Burial of the Dead – A charming rogue attempts to attend his own funeral, but is stymied by a former paramour. Is he both alive and dead? His boating accident has saved another's life.
  • The Soul Selects Her Own Society – This seemingly scholarly paper, subtitled "Invasion and Repulsion: A Chronological Reinterpretation of Two of Emily Dickinson's Poems: A Wellsian Perspective", examines the notion that the reclusive poet whose handwriting is still not reliably deciphered helped repulse H.G. Wells's Martians...a couple decades after her death.
  • Chance – As in "another chance". Maybe some folds do get an opportunity to reverse prior bad decisions. The husband is one of the more oblivious monsters of Willis's creation.
  • At the Rialto – A scientist trying her mightiest to determine her agenda at a conference hotel (a conference on quantum theory and chaos) finds it better to make "choices" at random.
  • Epiphany – Exploring the idea that the second coming of Jesus will be more like the first than we suppose. It is a good thing that Ms Willis is a master of the unfinished ending; this one couldn't have reached a conclusion.
These stories in particular emphasize the author's ability to explore spiritual themes, which most writers of SF and Fantasy eschew. Je suis fini.

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